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Distinguished professor’s career path serves as platform to showcase distribution of species

Fri, 03/10/2017

LAWRENCE — University Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Jorge Soberón will deliver his inaugural lecture, “From Policy to Theory: Geographic Distribution of Species” at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 14, in Alderson Auditorium of the Kansas Union. The event is open to the public.

Soberón, who also is senior scientist in the Biodiversity Institute, is an expert in theoretical population ecology, conservation biology, and informatics and policy for biodiversity. He researches how to “integrate” alternative views of biodiversity like distributional data, phylogenetic data, data about interactions and others. The work is completed in collaboration with computer scientists and colleagues in other universities. Results of this research can be applied to the more accurate conservation planning.

In his presentation, Soberón will share his evolving research journey that began with a personal connection to the field of distribution of species.

“I will be telling the story of how I got to study this as a consequence of having worked for an agency of the Mexican federal government,” Soberón said. “How the need to answer pressing and urgent questions by a government — on species conservation, invasive species and vectors of diseases — later led to posing questions of theory, and in the end, to my current area of research, which is very theoretical.”

He has published more than 150 scientific papers, chapters, books and science popularization articles, and his work has been cited more than 16,000 times (in 2015 and 2016 he was in the top 1 percent most-cited ecologists in the world). His research has been funded by major grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and Microsoft Research.

Soberón obtained a bachelor of science and a master's degree from the National University of Mexico, and he earned his doctorate from the Imperial College, University of London. From 1982 to 2005 he was a researcher at the Institute of Ecology, National University of Mexico. Between 1992 and 2005 he was supported by the National University of Mexico to serve as the executive secretary of the federal-level National Commission on Biodiversity of Mexico (CONABIO). In this capacity he helped to design and supervised the development of large databases of museum specimen data, systems for utilizing remote sensing data for monitoring the biodiversity of Mexico and the application of cutting-edge modeling techniques to the problem of predicting occurrences of biodiversity elements based on partial and biased data

He joined KU in 2005 and was named distinguished professor in 2014.

He has served as board member on many national and international organizations. He has received prizes and recognitions for his work, including a presidential award for services in preserving the biodiversity of Mexico.



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